Google’s U.K. on-line auto insurance comparison website has already been up and running for two years
According to recent reports, Google is planning to wade into the on-line auto insurance marketplace sooner rather than later. Forestor Research’s principal analyst, Ellen Carney, as well as the New York Times, the internet search giant has been quietly laying the groundwork throughout the U.S. According to various reports in the media, it is most likely that Google’s new site, called Google Compare Auto Insurance Services, Inc., would be a comparison-shopping website which would allow consumers to enter their information in order to view and buy auto insurance policies underwritten by the companies that it represents.
While rumors of Google’s auto insurance plans for the U.S. marketplace have been swirling around for years, Ms. Carney’s research noted recent developments which may hint at the imminent entry of the internet search giant’s entry into the auto insurance market. In particular, her discovery of one Google’s employee’s recent move to become authorized to sell insurance on behalf of Coverhound, Inc. For Ms. Carney, this move only makes sense for the company if it is planning to acquire the San-Francisco based on-line auto insurance site. As she wrote on in her article:
As much as I’d like to imagine someone could become so enthralled with the insurance industry that they’d leave a job at Google to become an insurance agent, there’s a more logical explanation for the addition of CoverHound on Ms. Stechbart’s license. An acquisition of CoverHound gets the Google insurance entity to market faster in the US than they’ve been able to get on their own; it gets them a national full service independent agency with more insurers that have already signed on; CoverHound’s San Francisco headquarters is conveniently close to Google’s Mountain View Campus; plus CoverHound gets Google the kind of insurance chops that the company will really need should they decide they really like the insurance business. And an acquisition might explain this most recent delay.
While the company is staying mum on the word, the internet search giant has already set up shop and sells auto insurance online in the United Kingdom. The U.K. site, which Google debuted in 2012, already features 127 providers. Here is a screen shot of what the UK website looks like:
As for the New York Times article, it notes that in addition to Google’s potential acquisition of Coverhound, the company also entered into a deal with the on-line site CompareNow.com last year. CompareNow.com, based out of Virginia, is a Kayak-like site for auto insurance. The import of the Compare Now deal, according to the New York Times, is that it gives Google access to at least 30 different insurers in the U.S. According to the New York Times article, the arrangement will allow Google to send potential insureds to the CompareNow.com website and will share royalties.
Apart from these deals, Google has been also working to get licensed throughout the United States. Since U.S. insurance is a state-based regulated industry, Google’s site will have to be licensed to sell insurance on behalf of these sites in the states in which they operate. Ms. Carney says the company has already has one of it officers obtain insurance producer licenses in at least 26 states.
What we found out about Google’s activities in Massachusetts
We decided to take a look around to see what Google had been up to in Massachusetts. Here is what we found:
- On August 8, 2014, Google Data Inc. changed its name in Massachusetts to Google Compare Auto Insurance Services, Inc.
- The Officers of the Company are as follows:
- President: Stephanie Cuthbertson
- Treasurer: Meredith Stechbart
- Secretary: Kenneth Yi
- Assistant Secretary: Blake Reese
- Director: Stephanie Cuthbertson
- Director: Meredith Stechbart
- The Director and Treasurer of the company, who appears to be the same Meredith Stechbart that Ms. Carney says now has Coverhound listed as a company appointment on her California insurance producer license, has obtained her insurance producer’s license in Massachusetts. Here, however, her only has company appointment is with the Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company.
- CompareNow.com Insurance Agency, LLC is a Foreign Limited Liability Company (LLC) that has been registered in Massachusetts since December 21, 2012. In its original application for Registration, it described the general character of its business as follows:
The limited liability company proposes to offer insurance price comparison services and other price comparison services to website visitors, as well as conduct other lawful business within the Commonwealth.”
The company, however, does not currently operate here.